November 15, 2019

#38, by Ronit Baranga (2019, photo from klassikmagazine.com)

These things inspire me. I made one selection from each medium of art, and intentionally, I did not choose anything architectural.

Untitled (Fallen Angel), by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1981)

1. Painting: Jean-Michel Basquiat

I love how his seemingly-random street-inspired paintings offer such beauty within chaos. I love how a rough stroke of paint or a small word scribbled on the surface evokes so much, yet looks like a mess.

Jeannette I through V, by Henri Matisse (1910-1916)

2. Sculpture: Henri Matisse

He not only explored forms of representation and abstraction, but he did so within a single study of five busts. From classical beauty to the Grotesque (here and here) Matisse effortlessly progresses sculpture a hundred years forward through a self-dialogue.

Elektra, by Frank Miller (1989)

3. Drawing: Frank Miller

Sure, I could name one of the Usual Suspects who line work is amazing, i.e. DaVinci, Michelangelo or Rembrandt. But what about an artist in the world of comic books and graphic novels? Frank Miller changed the entire industry of illustration with literally a few minimal lines of his pencil.

11th Street, 1951, by Robert Frank (1951)

4. Photography: Robert Frank

Frank’s work is not about capturing the beauty of a sunset or say, Half Dome at Yosemite. When he photographs daily life, Frank finds beauty within the smallest gestures, the most conventional actions and commonplace details.

Twisted, by Patrick Dougherty, West Palm Beach, Florida (photo from sun-sentinel.com)

5. Installation Art: Patrick Dougherty

Both sculpture and architecture, both nature and arts & crafts, Dougherty uses the elemental medium of branches and twigs . He offers not just a room of wood and light, but a place, an enigmatic experience, a space of mythology.

Teapots by Ronit Baranga (date unknown)

6. Ceramics: Ronit Baranga

A contemporary and new artist, Baranga mixes up delicate traditional cups and saucers with mouths and fingers, arriving at a creepy, bizarre composition—also, extraordinary and alluring.

Dr. Frankenstein, by Barry Moser (1983?)

7. Woodcutting: Barry Moser

This medium itself is so crude and simplistic, yet woodcutters have been making the most sophisticated of art pieces. By merely carving big scratches in rough blocks of wood, Moser captures facial expressions and deep emotions.

8. Literature: Edgar Allen Poe

Preceding Ronit Baranga, this author capitalized on disturbing and unsettling themes. One reading of a single work of Poe’s could leave you haunted for decades—your mind cycling through a freak show realm of horror.

Book cover for Edgar Allen Poe’s works, by David Plunkert (2014)

9. Poetry: E.E. Cummings

First, why does he write poetry in all lower-case letters? Second, it doesn’t matter when phrases like “not even the rain,has such small hands” can say so much, whether in a Woody Allen movie, or for an event of life and true love. (And that is not a typo in the quote. Cummings’ use of lower-case letters as well as irregular word spacing is all part of the art form of communication.)

in spite of everything, by E.E. Cummings (1904-1962, photo from medium.com)

10. Film: Charlie Kaufman

Speaking of movies, Kaufman is one of the most original creators working today. The rich complexity of his visions makes the best of escapist movies, but also, transplant viewers to another world. When a Kaufman movie is over, we are left there oddly sitting in this other world, and we don’t want to return to ours.

Anomalisa, by Charlie Kaufman (2015)

Alongside these ten artists that inspire me, there are so many more. There are probably at least ten in each category, and so many other categories, from fashion design to graphics, from landscape to opera set design. Most importantly, artistic explorations are rarely in cut and dry separate groups of medium. Each aspect of one artistic exploration, whether oil painting or textile design, inspires the next, such as architecture or music.

© Poon Design Inc.